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Vintage 101: The Oath of a Lifetime


Howdy folks! It's time yet again for another edition of Vintage 101! I'm your host, Joe Dyer, and this week we are talking about taking Oaths! That's right, we're going to be talking about Oath of Druids decks! In addition, we'll be covering the Vintage Challenge from last weekend and also our Spice Corner.

We do have some Ikoria related stuff to talk about, but we will be doing that in my official Vintage set review which will be next week's article, so be on the lookout for that!

Without further ado, let's jump right into our main topic for the week!

Oathing for Fun and Profit

One of the format's long time combo archetypes, Oath of Druids is a hybrid combo/control deck that seeks to abuse the primary interaction between Oath of Druids and Forbidden Orchard, or simply relying on the opponent to cast their own creatures. This deck can be likened to Show and Tell decks in Legacy as it is attempting to cheat a large threat into play that is hard to deal with. However, unlike in Legacy, Oath is much more compact as a combo, requiring only having Oath, Orchard (which is a rainbow land anyways), and only two actual Oath targets to hit. This frees up an incredibly large amount of slots for the deck to also be capable of running a functional control package and backup plan as well.

Let's take a look at the list below by Miharu_Fuyumiya, who has written excellent sideboarding information on this deck prior. You can find that information here (fair warning it is in Japanese and needs to be translated).

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Up until recent years the deck's popularity had waned and it had dropped out of the limelight, but it was Throne of Eldraine that gave the deck new life in the form of Oko, Thief of Crowns.

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Oko's general power level gave Oath a solid backup plan to win games by simply playing as a control deck when it needed to do so. This flexibility has allowed Oath to return to being a more popular deck to play, combined with the printing of Niv-Mizzet, Parun as the deck's other go-to Oath target besides Griselbrand. In addition, 2019 era cards like Veil of Summer and Force of Negation have greatly impacted Oath in being able to protect its combo.

When evaluating hands with Oath, some of the considerations to make are generally revolving around what kind of role you expect to be playing in the game. Is a more controlling route necessary or are you simply going for the combo? This can make hands fairly subtle and rather interesting to evaluate. Even so, some of the more controlling hands can allow you the capability of finding the combo and protection for it. The London Mulligan also plays quite well with this deck, since it can easily mulligan into a situation that allows it to cast an early Oath.

ON THE PLAY - KEEP

This is a rather interesting hand, and it can be tempting to simply go for Oath of Druids right off the bat with it, but with no Forbidden Orchard you're possibly giving your opponent a turn to set up a way to get rid of Oath. My approach to this would be to go for Time Walk first and follow up your extra turn with Ancestral Recall to try to refill and to be able to attempt to play Oath during that turn.

ON THE DRAW - MULLIGAN

There is a lot going on here, and yes there is a Gitaxian Probe but the hand doesn't have any protection from anything happening on the draw, and needing to use Forbidden Orchard as a rainbow land to cast cantrips can feel rather awkward since you will spend turns giving the opponent's creatures to attack you with. Narset is great for sure, but less great if you're giving your opponent ways to get rid of her. While this could change with what you draw, I'd rather spend the energy sculpting a hand that does more.

ON THE PLAY - PROBABLE MULLIGAN BASED ON MATCHUP

The biggest issue this hand is that it loses heavily to Wasteland and if your opponent has that, you're set back pretty far on mana development. The other issue is that Force of Negation does not protect resolving Oath. If it were a Force of Will this hand could be considered. The absence of fast mana here is basically what kills this hand for me. If there was a random Moxen in this hand it would allow you to attempt to resolve Oath Turn 1 with Forbidden Orchard mana.

ON THE DRAW - PROBABLE KEEP BASED ON MATCHUP

This hand does have some potential and a protection measure if need be in Force + blue card. Yes it stinks to lose Narset if you have to do it, but it's better than not being able to force through an Oath. While you don't have a Forbidden Orchard, there is a reasonable amount of time to find one and also have answers like Pyroblast and Abrade.

If you agree or disagree with these hands, please feel free to sound off in the comments below! I'm certainly not perfect and I love hearing thoughts on strategy and gameplay decisions!

Vintage Challenge 4/4

We had yet another Vintage Challenge over the weekend, so let's take a look at the ins and outs of it. These Challenges continue to be doing well right now, since everyone is staying mostly at home, so there are a lot more players showing up.

Deck Name Placing MTGO Username
Mono Blue Urza 1st GGoggles
Jeskai Xerox 2nd DaveKaplan
Dredge 3rd Lord_Beerus
Doomsday 4th Ecobaronen
Jeskai Xerox 5th ZioFrancone
PO Storm 6th Roter_Erzengel
4C No Black Planeswalkers 7th Pohlman
Jeskai Xerox 8th DiscoverN

Again I consider that Vintage is seemingly in a pretty great place right now. Every Challenge appears to be relatively back and forth and things are continuing to be pretty interesting.

At the end of the event it was GGoggles who took it all down on Mono Blue Urza.

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This list is pretty sweet and definitely shows off the power of a card like Urza. Really intriguing and solid list overall here.

In Second Place we have DaveKaplan on Jeskai Xerox!

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This list is pretty close to most Jeskai lists lately, with just changes in the numbers of Dreadhorde Arcanist. There are many decks running down as close to one of these cards and some still with the full four, so it appears to be roughly preference and play style.

In Third Place we have Lord_Beerus on Dredge!

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This is fairly stock, and the only big thing to note is putting Strip Mine + Wasteland in the sideboard to deal with Tabernacle mainly.

In Fourth Place we have our good friend Andreas Petersen (ecobaronen) on Doomsday!

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The most playable card that has been printed for these kinds of decks has most definitely been Thassa's Oracle, as it provides a far cleaner way of winning the game overall, and allows for some more mana tight Doomsday piles.

In Sixth Place we have PO Storm!

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It is certainly wild to consider just how popular playing Tabernacle in the sideboard has become for decks these days. Needing to beat down on HollowVine and Dredge with it has become pretty go-to on Magic Online for sure.

In Seventh Place we have a list that nearly made this week's Spice Corner, but Top 8'ed this event so we get to talk about it anyways. It's a really interesting deck and also includes several new cards like Klothys, God of Destiny and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath.

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Suffice to say this deck is really sweet. Overall it just seems incredibly cool.

Rounding out the Top 8 we had yet another Jeskai Xerox build, this one with no Arcanists and a copy of Underworld Breach.

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This version leans more on being able to utilize cards like Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Dack Fayden more in conjunction with Breach as a value Yawgmoth's Will effect.

Now let's take a look at the 2019-2020 cards in this Top 32.

Card Name Number of Copies
Force of Negation 32
Force of Vigor 21
Narset, Parter of Veils 21
Stonecoil Serpent 18
Dreadhorde Arcanist 15
Oko, Thief of Crowns 13
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade 10
Mystic Sanctuary 10
Collector Ouphe 8
Wrenn and Six 7
Bolas's Citadel 6
Mystic Forge 6
Teferi, Time Raveler 6
Veil of Summer 6
Dovin's Veto 4
Emry, Lurker of the Loch 4
Golos, Tireless Pilgrim 4
Karn, the Great Creator 4
Once Upon a Time 4
Urza, Lord High Artificer 4

2019 Cards

Card Name Number of Copies
Soul-Guide Lantern 9
Underworld Breach 7
Thassa's Oracle 2
Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 2
Klothys, God of Destiny 1

2020 Cards

2019-2020 cards continue to impact nearly every format including Vintage it seems, and this event is no exception. Force of Negation and Force of Vigor continue to cement themselves as essentially format staples at this point, and despite being restricted Narset continues to see quite a bit of play. I don't personally believe we need to make changes to the restricted list at this point, although I wouldn't be upset with unrestricting cards further.

The Spice Corner

PO and Standstill in a deck seems incredibly interesting for sure.

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Wrapping Up

That's all the time we have this week folks! Join us next week as we talk about Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths and Commander 2020 for Vintage!

As always you can reach me on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon! I'm also always around the MTGGoldfish Discord Server as well as the Vintage Streamers Discord Server.

Until next time, keep on Griselbranding!



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